I recently started a new series on the blog where I spotlight various businesses. In doing this, I’ve had the chance to meet some great people and get to know how they use digital marketing. Today I discuss meeting Terry from Material Things, a quilt shop near Richmond, Virginia.
Filling a Need
Before Terry opened Material Things, she and a friend noticed something about most quilt shops. Often when she would go to one, the staff would seem standoffish. She described many standard quilt shops as “cliquish”, particularly toward those who did not already belong to the quilting community. If you didn’t already know all the quilting “rules”, it was hard to feel welcome in many of these places.
Terry and that friend decided to open a different kind of quilt store where people could learn quilting without fear of judgment. Terry no longer has a business partner, but the spirit of her store remains the same.
A Quilting Family
When I asked her favorite part about owning her business, she immediately mentioned the people. This store has become the center of a different kind of quilting community comprised of the staff, those who teach her classes, and community members who frequent her store. She lists students between 12 and 18 as her favorite clients. According to her, these kids come in excited about quilting and without preconceived notions. They show creativity and don’t care about “rules”. She loves working with anyone, regardless of age, who is just beginning a quilting journey.
Material Things offers classes open to anyone, regardless of quilting experience. Students learn from non-judgmental instructors; in many cases, they also learn from one another.
Digital Marketing at Material Things
Although about 80% of her business comes by word-of-mouth, Terry recognizes the importance of digital marketing in 2020. She has a website where she posts the month’s class calendar, and she regularly uses email marketing to keep herself top-of-mind with her customers.
Material Things on Facebook
My favorite part of her marketing strategy, however, is her use of social media. The business boasts a very active and busy Facebook presence. They regularly post about contests, encouraging followers to vote for winners. This keeps their audience engaged and invested in the shop. She also loves posting pictures of new items that come in and projects in progress. The page has products for sale and highlights classes and other upcoming events.
The hands-down coolest thing Terry does with Facebook? I love her use of Facebook Live. She frequently hosts live videos that share updates on a myriad of subjects. Users feel connected to her and to the shop when they hear news about the staff, community businesses, events, and contests. Each video also includes a quilting tip, trick, or how-to lesson. When followers know they will gain information they can use immediately, they are more likely to tune in regularly. Those who can’t join the live video can always access it to watch later.
Like many other small business owners, Terry lists “time to be consistent” as her biggest digital marketing challenge. While Facebook is at least a little easier to do from her phone, it’s difficult for her to find time to sit and update a website or craft an email newsletter. In fact, she rarely sits at all, unless it’s at one of the sewing machines in her classroom.
If you are a quilter who is looking for a different kind of shop with a welcoming atmosphere, check out Material Things near Richmond, Virginia. Since my mom is a quilter, I have a feeling I’ll visit there for an upcoming gift-giving occasion. Until next time, keep swimming along!